The economic downturn in the commercial real estate industry has diminished the importance of climate change and alternative energy sources as a factor in real estate investment decisions, according to a survey of U.S. financial leaders conducted by the Urban Land Institute. More than 200 responses were tallied from executives in U.S. investment funds, institutional investors, real estate investment trusts, and banks.

Forty percent of respondents indicated a decline in the business significance of climate change and energy issues and an additional 17 percent reported a significant weakening. Nearly 80 percent said they have not altered business models in response to climate change or energy efficiency.

On the upside, the survey found interest in energy efficiency and climate change is likely to pick up when the market rallies. Also, lenders tend to view energy efficiency, rather than climate change, as an important bottom-line issue and are more apt to reshape their business strategies around reducing energy costs rather than reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

… but increases for state agencies

Energy efficiency is still a priority at the state level, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy. According to the council’s 50-state scorecard on energy-efficiency policies, programs, and practices, the 10 states doing the most to implement energy efficiency at a state level are, in order: California; Massachusetts; Connecticut; Oregon; New York; Vermont; Washington; Minnesota; Rhode Island; and Maine.

The scorecard examined six state energy-efficiency policy areas: utility sector and public benefits programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power; state government initiatives; and appliance efficiency standards.